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So You Want to Be a Personal Trainer?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “[f]witness workers held approximately 236,000 jobs in 2006.” However, this figure is expected to rise significantly in the coming decades as Americans become more health conscious due, in part, to these disturbing statistics:
- 58 million Americans are overweight (Source: US Centers for Disease Control)
- The majority of Americans (78%) do not meet the minimum activity levels required to maintain major organ health, let alone those required for optimal health.
- We are in the midst of the greatest obesity epidemic to afflict the modern world. Obesity is a proven contributor to diseases such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer
…And the list continues. Indeed, the aforementioned summary lists diseases that are, in part, caused by inactivity, and the number of Americans succumbing to one or more of these conditions continues to rise at an alarming rate. It’s no surprise, then, that the BLS predicts that the field of fitness will grow faster than average over the next decade to meet the needs of alarmed individuals who face frightening statistics after a routine visit to the doctor.
The growth of this industry means that health and fitness providers will need an increasing number of qualified people to staff their fitness centers. Of course, not everyone has the unique combination of qualities and skills required to be a successful personal trainer.
What is a personal trainer?
Quite simply, personal trainers are trained individuals who work with clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. Some work one-on-one with clients, others teach group exercise classes. They may, for example, lead specialized classes such as yoga, pilates and tae bo.
Although a college degree is not required to become a personal trainer, an increasing number of employers require their trainers to have a bachelor’s degree in physical education, sports physiology, or another health/fitness related field.
Some of the duties of a personal trainer include:
- Assess client’s fitness levels
- Demonstration and tracking of perfect form in exercises
- Work with a client to meet their nutritional needs
- Design specific routines for each client, taking into account their age, weight, goals and physiological conditions
- Observe clients for signs of overtraining, eating disorders, or psychological imbalances that may require referral to licensed practitioners
Also, personal trainers are not limited to working in fitness facilities. Instead, personal trainers are increasingly working in hospitals, universities, country clubs, health clubs, cruise ships, vacation retreats…and even traveling to homes or venues. customer work. Today and in the future, personal trainers can choose from a multitude of fulfilling career opportunities, if one possesses the qualities necessary to become a personal trainer.
Characteristics of a personal trainer
Since the majority of a personal trainer’s “work time” is spent working with other people, they must be outgoing, kind, and patient, with a genuine desire to help others achieve their fitness goals. In addition, they must have a knack for motivating and encouraging customers; not all techniques work with all clients. Other qualities of a good personal trainer include:
Be a good listener in order to judge what the client really needs versus what he can indicate he wants
· Analytical skills
· Organisational skills
· Strong communication skills
· Interest in physical fitness which manifests through ongoing training which is then incorporated into clients’ routines, as well as explained to clients to educate them on the latest medical or scientific studies
Certification as a fitness professional is considered mandatory today, as most fitness centers will not hire someone without these credentials. The certification attests that the candidate for employment as a personal trainer has an understanding of the biomechanics of the body, knowledge of the perfect form/techniques for various exercises, how to tailor routines for specific clients, and most importantly, how to avoid hurt customers.
There are literally hundreds of organizations that certify fitness professionals. Finding the right one requires diligent investigation combined with (perhaps) a few of these suggestions:
· Make sure the certifying body is well known and generally accepted by most fitness facilities.
· Check to see if the certifying body has been accredited by a major agency, such as the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Accreditation by such an agency verifies that the organization’s certification procedures meet industry standards.
· Determine your eligibility for the exam. (There are no educational requirements to take the exam, but most certification bodies require one to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma to take the exam. Some also require a current CPR certification).
· Choose a specialty fitness area and find out if the organization offers certification in that specialty area. (Although it is not necessary to specialize to become a personal trainer, such a specialization may well increase employment opportunities, such as a specialization in working with the elderly or those with certain underlying illnesses.)
Certification involves participation in a curriculum that includes recommended exercises, issues to know, study of anatomy and physiology, and some business aspects of personal training. There is also a practical component in which participants must practice on each other to ensure that their communication skills and knowledge of exercise routines are well anchored. The student must then pass a comprehensive written and practical exam.
Once the individual has passed the exam, the certification will be valid for two years. This credential is then renewed through a specified number of continuing education courses, including attendance at courses, conferences, and training seminars, both in person and online.
Find a job
Generally, one gets a job in the fitness field by reading the classifieds, registering with employment agencies, applying to establishments and networking with other fitness professionals… much like any career position would be found. Some certification bodies help by providing leads or forums in which to assist graduates of their programs.
If the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts are correct that the fitness field will grow 27% over the next decade, it should be relatively easy for a qualified individual to find a position in this exciting and growing field. .
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